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Residents worry about what J.C. Penney closure means for economy

Janesville location 1 of 5 J.C. Penney stores to close in state

JANESVILLE, Wis. - Residents worry about what J.C. Penney closure means for economy

Janesville's economy will take another hit as a national retailer announces it is closing up shop.

About 2,000 J.C. Penney workers will lose their jobs, as stores are shutting down across the country, including five in Wisconsin.

The J.C. Penney in Janesville is one of 33 stores across the country set to close in May.

According to a statement from the company, Janesville and the other stores were under-performing.

Seventy-one employees will lose their jobs when the Janesville store closes. The retailer expects the closures to save the company about $65 million a year.

J.C. Penney is one of the anchor stores at the Janesville mall.

"It's sad. It's been here for a long time, and we do shop here. I'm just shocked, "Janesville resident Ken Hjertquist said. He's concerned how the closure will impact the community.

"There's a lot of unemployment here, we survived GM but we'll see what happens now," Hjertquist said.

Leslie Walter said she comes to the mall every day with her daughter Alexis and her friend Mila. They usually enter through J.C. Penney.

"I just can't believe it. We need a J.C. Penney. It's an anchor store in the mall. We need it," Walter said.

Walter said she is also concerned about how this will impact the economy.

"Janesville's going to hell in a hand basket. I mean it's terrible. We can't afford to lose any more business. We've got to start shopping local," Walter said.

The company plans to offer severance pay and the possibility of working at another store. They are also offering career training classes to help workers write a resume and assist them with interviewing for other jobs.

Company officials said inventory at the closing stores will be sold off during the next few months.

Besides Janesville, four other stores in Wisconsin are set to close, including in Fond du Lac where about 50 people will lose their jobs. Stores in Rhinelander, Rice Lake and Wausau will also be closing.

Calls to Janesville Mall management haven't been returned.

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